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  • Writer's picture Rachel Smith

Summer must-haves with your horses

My best remedies and solutions for navigating the heat, bugs, and increased riding over the summer months.

As riders, I think we can all agree that the season we most look forward to throughout the year is summer (especially for us Canadians who have to endure frigid winters) All of the beautiful days, warm weather, shows, rodeos, and trail rides that we know we have ahead of us. It seems to be the climax of the year and lead to the most planning and excitement. But summer does come with its downfalls. Hot weather, flies, mosquitoes, and bugs of all kinds plus the added workload on our horses as we get them back into shape after the long winter. Over the years, I've tried a million different tricks and learned quite a few natural ways to lessen those downfalls. Here are my top remedies and solutions to help keep summer safe and enjoyable for you and your horses.

Fly Control Tips

I think we’ve all tried every fly product on the market to help our horses out and we all have different opinions on their effectiveness( I personally will only use Ultrashield EX fly spray on my horses) But there are a few remedies outside of the traditional chemical-ridden products that I have found to work for my guys and hopefully, they will help you too.

Face and ears- With these sensitive areas, you obviously want to watch what you are applying. Mosquitoes seem to hate Bounce drier sheets and the waxy coating on them, and when rubbed on the face and ears I find they’re biting my horses less. They help riders too! Throw a couple of sheets in your pocket and rub them on your arms.

Garlic salt blocks or granulated garlic- I’ve been feeding granulated garlic to my horses for years in their feed but this year I found out that my local feed shop has salt blocks with garlic in them. The garlic helps deter mosquitoes and has always been known as one of nature’s best immune boosters. If you feed grain every day add in a couple of tablespoons of garlic powder or see if your feed store has the garlic blocks and your horses will free feedand be intaking garlic every time they're licking.

Apple Cider Vinegar- ACV has SOOOOOOO many amazing health benefits for horses and humans. Aside from helping with digestion and ulcers, ACV can help with flies and mosquitoes. Mix it with tea tree, citronella, lemon and rosemary essential oils with a bit of carrier oil or witch hazel for a homemade all natural fly spray. This spray is pretty potent so keep away from eyes, face, and any wounds as it may sting.

If you have a water trough that you are filling regularly (one that stays pretty clean) you can also add ACV to your horse’s water and it will work its magic internally. (I recommend adding a small amount of the vinegar to the water at first and then building up to larger amounts to get your horses used to the taste and ensure it doesnt deter them from drinking)


Beating the heat

Electrolytes- When we are working our horses in the heat and they are sweating and expending a lot of energy it is super important to be replacing those trace minerals lost in sweat. Trace minerals are responsible for transmitting signals across nerves and relaying messages throughout the body. Electrolytes help get these trace minerals back in their body. At any tack or feed store, you can purchase horse specific electrolytes, however, an old boss of mine gave me the tip to buy Gatorade powder in bulk from a wholesale store and dilute the powder in water and offer to a thirsty horse after a hard days work. The electrolytes are pretty much the same and although the sugar content might be a bit more in Gatorade when it’s diluted down in a full bucket of water the sugar content is comparable to the horse marketed electrolytes.

Cool Hosing- After a long or strenuous ride in the summer, our horse’s soft tissues get heated up from exertion. The heat can result in inflammation in the muscles and joints. Cool hosing down their legs for 10-15 minutes or letting your horse stand in a stream or river can help clear out the inflammation and heat. Ensure the water isn’t too cold however so you don’t shock the tissues. Cooling liniments can also be beneficial.


So there you have it, folks! I hope these tips help you out. The most important thing to remember during the summer is to ensure your horses are well hydrated, getting lots of exercise and movement to counteract all of those extra pasture calories. Have fun and make sure to enjoy your horses and remember that you are doing the best you can. Any progress, any amount of try, any health and wellness habits you implement are all a step in the right direction and your horse will appreciate it.


*consult a veterinarian and holistic specialist before making any dietary changes or adding any new supplements*

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